How to live without Google
For many the Internet is Google: Search, mail, videos, web browser, cloud services, mobile OS, etc. – Google is the major player in all these fields. But Google uses all data it gathers across its services to post targeted ads, and to massively profit from the data many share so freely with the Internet giant. Your personal data can also be subpoenaed by lawyers, including for civil cases like divorce. Google answered over 200,000 such data requests in 2020 alone.
More and more people are also realizing the risk of relying on one company for so many personal services. So, the time has come to stop this unlimited data mining and to take back our right to privacy. Here's a quick guide as to how you can use the Internet without sharing all your data with Google.
Google service to replace: Google Search
Let's start with the easiest one. Google search is widely used because in the past it was the only one giving reliable results quickly. However, privacy-friendly search engines have caught up over the past few years, and there is no reason at all not to favor those.
Google service to replace: Google Chrome
Today there are several browsers that give you much more privacy-protection than Google Chrome. Firefox is a well-established browser known for respecting user's privacy, and recently, with the Quantum update, it even became faster than Chrome. And if you need extra anonymity when browsing online, you can use the Tor Browser.
Google service to replace: Google Chrome OS
Fedora Workstation is a really good distribution for people new to Linux. Fedora generally adopts newer technologies before other distributions e.g., Wayland, PipeWire, and soon, FS-Verity. These new technologies often come with improvements in security, privacy, and usability in general.
Google service to replace: Gmail
Gmail is by far the most used email service in the world. But even if it's a very handy service with lots of third-party integration, you have to know that Google can read all your email for marketing purposes and that you have strictly zero privacy while using such a service. ProtonMail, on the other side, offers end-to-end encryption so that it is fully protected from snooping eyes and even the developers cannot read your emails.
Google service to replace: Inbox by Gmail
Thunderbird is a free, open source, cross-platform e-mail, news and instant messaging client. The project strategy is modelled after Mozilla Firefox. It supports POP (storing mail locally on your hard drive so that it can be accessed without an internet connection), and IMAP. It features excellent mail filter capabilities and management. Thunderbird has strong support for using multiple accounts and identities, including automated signature features. Thunderbird can also function as an RSS/Atom feed reader, and has a large selection of add-ons that extend it with calendar support (https://alternativeto.net/software/lightning/), PGP support (https://alternativeto.net/software/enigmail/), integration with online services and much more.
PS : One of the reasons I didn't use Thunderbird before was because of its UI which is pretty old and ugly. But thanks to that slick Thunderbird theme, you can now use it with a clean and nice interface.
Google service to replace: Google Drive
When using Google Drive, one must know that all files are stored unencrypted on Google servers. Everyone gaining access to these servers can easily copy and read those files. Netxcloud allows you to access, share and protect your files, calendars, contacts, communication & more at home and in your enterprise. It's a self-hosted service so your data are on a server you control. But if you want a hosted solution with end-to-end encryption, you can also try Spideroak One Backup or Tresorit.
Google service to replace: Google Photos
Piwigo is a web application to manage your collection of photos, and other medias. Embedding powerful features, it powers photo galleries all around the world. Piwigo includes many features such as albums, tags, geolocation, multiple levels of customization, sending photos by visitors, photo privacy, calendar and statistics. Piwigo also handles themes and plugins for an integration as close as possible to the style of your site.
Google service to replace: Android
The most popular alternative to Android is, of course, iOS, which offers easy device encryption and encrypted messaging via iMessage by default. But iOS is detained by Apple and some people might want to use an open-source operating system based on Android. And since Cyanogen, Inc. officially ended support for CyanogenMod some times ago, the new kid in town is LineageOS and it's really good. You'd have to install it with microG or Open GApps in order to entirelly replace Google Services.
Google service to replace: Google Play Store
F-Droid is an installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. The client makes it easy to browse, install, and keep track of updates on your device just like Google Play. F-Droid only allows you to install open-source apps, so, if you want to install non-FOSS apps but don't want to use the Play Store, you could also be interested in Aptoide, Yalp Store & Aurora Store.
Google service to replace: YouTube
This one is a hard one — maybe even the hardest one on this list. Nowadays, everyone uploads and watches videos on YouTube. If you're creating and hosting videos yourself, Odysee provides a free, open source and decentralized platform running on the LBRY protocol to allow users to upload and share videos to people around the world. For videos that are only on YouTube (unfortunately, a lot), you can search for and watch them using Invidious, FreeTube or NewPipe for better privacy protection.
Also worth mentioning: SkyTube, Piped & LibreTube that are some good open-source YouTube clients. You can also take a look at PeerTube, which is not some other YouTube client, but a true decentralized YouTube alternative (like Odysee).
For iOS users, Apple gives you an alternative built-in via Apple Maps, so no installation is necessary if you're okay with using Apple services. If you want to use an open-source service with wider device support, check out OpenStreetMap and its mobile application OsmAnd, though it may not have the same ease-of-use or coverage quality as Google Maps.
Google service to replace: Google Smart Lock
A password manager is a mandatory tool if you use lots of passwords for online protection and don't want to use the built-in Chrome/Firefox one. One of the best on the market is Bitwarden. It's open-source, easy to use and works on all the desktop and mobile platforms.
Google service to replace: Google Allo
There are several services offering private messaging but Signal (or Silence IM) gets our recommendation. It offers free, end-to-end encryption for both messages and private calls. It's also recommended by Edward Snowden and renowned security expert Bruce Schneier, among others. Wire is also a good solution. The app allows users to exchange end-to-end encrypted instant messages, as well as make voice and video calls.
Google service to replace: Hangouts
Jitsi is a robust video chat alternative we use internally that works well even for large numbers of participants, though requires software to be installed. A web-only alternative is Jitsi Meet which doesn't require an account — just go to the website to open a chat room and you're ready.
Google service to replace: Blogger
Ghost is both a hosted (paid) and self-installable blogging platform, tracker-free by default and run by a non-profit foundation. It's an open source publishing platform which is beautifully designed, easy to use, and free for everyone.
Google service to replace: Google Analytics
Matomo is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics that you can self-host on your own server or web hosting. It's better than GA in many ways:
- You have the full ownership of the analytics data
- You get unsampled data (understanding data sampling in Google Analytics)
- The cost is very low
- No data storage and collection limit
- Endless customization of the platform
- You can configure privacy settings like "Do not track" and the anonymization of IP addresses of visitors
And even if you don't want to setup, configure and maintain your infrastructure for Matomo and/or if you want to customize Matomo to meet your specific tracking/reporting requirements, then you can use Piwik PRO Analytics Suite which is a paid service.
Google service to replace: Google Keep
Standard Notes is a safe place for your notes, thoughts, and life's work. All your notes are encrypted and secured so only you can decrypt them. No one but you can read your notes (not even the company behind the app). Standard Notes is free to use and is cross-platform and there's also a premium version at $3,99/month for those who need extended functionalities.
Google service to replace: Google Docs
OnlyOffice is an open-source office suite that combines text, spreadsheet and presentation editors. You can download and use them for home, government, educational and commercial purposes without restrictions and use these office tools online.
Google service to replace: Google Tasks
Wekan is an open-source Trello-like kanban board built with Meteor. Whether you’re maintaining a personal todo list, planning your holidays with some friends, or working in a team on your next revolutionary idea, Kanban boards are an unbeatable tool to keep your things organized. They give you a visual overview of the current state of your project and make you productive by allowing you to focus on the few items that matter the most.
Google service to replace: Google Code Hosting
Even if Google Cloud is discontinued since 2015, I wanted to present you a good open-source alternative named GitLab. It's a web-based Git repository manager with wiki and issue tracking features, using an open source license. Nowadays, it's the best alternative to GitHub that's free and open-source.
Google service to replace: Google Plus
Diaspora is a federated social networking service, designed to be a more privacy-aware alternative to Facebook and other social media. Diaspora lets you sort your connections into groups called aspects. Unique to Diaspora, aspects ensure that your photos, stories and jokes are shared only with the people you intend.
Google service to replace: Google Translate
Apertium is a free and open-source machine translation platform, initially aimed at related-language pairs but expanded to deal with more divergent language pairs (such as English-Catalan). The platform provides a language-independent machine translation engine, tools to manage the linguistic data necessary to build a machine translation system for a given language pair and linguistic data for a growing number of language pairs.
Google service to replace: Google Fonts
Font Squirrel is the best resource for free, hand-picked, high-quality, commercial-use fonts. Font Squirrel also has a great @font-face font generator. It means that if you own a @font-face license for your fonts, you can use the generator to create web-kits or to tweak your existing kits to improve rendering and file sizes.
Also worth mentioning: Font Library
Google service to replace: Google URL Shortener
Lstu – for Let's Shorten That Url – is a simple and open-source URL shortener that's easy to use and that you can customize as you wish. You can use it as service or install it on your own server.
Google service to replace: Google Domains
Namecheap is a domain registrar and hosting company. When you register a domain name, it comes with free WhoisGuard protection for life, which protects your contact information from third parties. Namecheap also accepts Bitcoin and offers domain registration, hosting, email, SSL certificates, and a variety of other products.
Google service to replace: Google Cloud Platform
Exoscale is a safe European cloud hosting for Saas companies, developers, sysadmins and everyone seeking deployment agility. Protected by Swiss privacy laws, your data will stay safe from technical or legal harm.
Google service to replace: Google Authenticator
FreeOTP is a two-factor authentication application for systems utilizing one-time password protocols. Tokens can be added easily by scanning a QR code. FreeOTP implements open standards: HOTP and TOTP. This means that no proprietary server-side component is necessary: use any server-side component that implements these standards. We recommend FreeIPA.
Google service to replace: Google Public DNS
DNSCrypt is a protocol that authenticates communications between a DNS client and a DNS resolver. It prevents DNS spoofing. It uses cryptographic signatures to verify that responses originate from the chosen DNS resolver and haven't been tampered with. It is an open specification, with free and open source reference implementations, and it is not affiliated with any company nor organization, unlike Google Public DNS.
As you can see, moving away from Google isn't necessarily hard. In fact, you might even find you prefer the alternatives while also getting better privacy!